Designing constraints: composing and performing with digital musical systems

Magnusson, Thor (2010) Designing constraints: composing and performing with digital musical systems Computer Music Journal, 34 (4). pp. 62-73. ISSN 0148-9267

34.4.magnusson.pdf - Published Version

Download (263kB) | Preview


This paper investigates two central terms in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) – affordances and constraints – and studies their relevance to the design and understanding of digital musical systems. It argues that in the analysis of complex systems, such as new interfaces for musical expression (NIME), constraints are a more productive analytical tool than the common HCI usage of affordances. Constraints are seen as limitations enabling the musician to encapsulate a specific search space of both physical and compositional gestures, proscribing complexity in favor of a relatively simple set of rules that engender creativity. By exploring the design of three different digital musical systems, the paper defines constraints as a core attribute of mapping, whether in instruments or compositional systems. The paper describes the aspiration for designing constraints as twofold: to save time, as musical performance is typically a real-time process, and to minimize the performer’s cognitive load. Finally, it discusses skill and virtuosity in the realm of new musical interfaces for musical expression with regard to constraints.

Item Type: Journal article
Additional Information: © 2010 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Subjects: W000 Creative Arts and Design > W300 Music
J000 Technologies > J900 Technology not classified elsewhere > J930 Audio Technology
W000 Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design > W280 Interactive and Electronic Design
DOI (a stable link to the resource): 10.1162/COMJ_a_00026
Faculties: Faculty of Arts > School of Arts and Media
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Thor Magnusson
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2012 12:21
Last Modified: 21 May 2014 11:01

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year